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Betsy Reed shows us that embracing discomfort gives birth to the greatest transformations

It’s a very great pleasure to share with you the conversation I co-created with Betsy Reed. Betsy has spent the past 18+ years working as a sustainability expert, running big advocacy campaigns, working for corporates, running her own sustainability consultancy, lecturing, and being invited to write and publish her first book, ‘Communicating Social & Environmental Issues Effectively.’ Above all, Betsy is a lifelong social justice activist who wanted to grow up and become a lobbyist (and did). She’s spent years honing her skills as a meditation and yoga teacher, as well as embracing and becoming more comfortable in her range of changing identities to give her perspective, empathy and power in herself.

Her greatest labour of love to the world right now is her podcast, The Discomfort Practice, which was birthed from the quiet that a 3-month Barcelona covid lockdown created in spring 2020. It’s created a space for her to explore and knit together the themes she’s been studying, becoming an expert in and teaching for several years, from mindfulness and system change to anti-racism activism and hosting nurturing conversations.

As work has started to flow again in 2021, her work has become solely focused on leadership (both self-leadership and more formal Leadership) for a new paradigm, which incorporates diversity & inclusion, holistic sustainability, shifts in power and influence and the pressures of leadership following a pandemic and the unfolding crisis of social inequality and climate change. Betsy’s intention is to live a life that inspires others, to do work that inspires others to better lead themselves and others to create big collective change that makes society and the planet a place where all beings can thrive.

This conversation is playful, confronting, joyful and (of course) touching on topics that maybe uncomfortable for some, maybe including you.

We look forward to hearing from you via our socials is there’s anything you would like to share in response to this conversation. Betsy is mainly active on Instagram, an Tim primarily hangs out in LinkedIn so drop us a comment or a message in either of those platforms if you’d like to.

Key out-takes from this episode;

Defining Self

  • Finding real freedom in not being defined by what I do
  • Finding yourself doing something, something that fits, that meets you where you are and draws you on
  • Focus on alignment and you end up where you need to be
  • Worked so hard at being good in the system I was in, and it was never enough
  • People don’t know how to connect to themselves, they don’t know how to speak emotion, they have lost touch with themselves as humans in the workplace
  • To become truly myself I had to break up with old ways of being

Reflections on this moment

  • What I’ve been training and developing for the last 20 years is now what the world wants
  • I’m really excited about where we are
  • What I got was a chance to be still. It was really squirmy at first, uncomfortable as an ambitious, action-orientated person
  • What a gift to my creativity quiet was

Systems thinking

  • I no longer have to explain to people that social & environmental is part of sustainability
  • In order to build sustainable systems they need to be sustainable for human beings, they need to include sustainability, diversity & inclusion and be cognisant of wellbeing
  • I’m still entwined in these systems which have created our world
  • Shareholders don’t exist as some separate entity to the planet, everything exists as part of the same whole
  • There’s cognitive dissonance everywhere, as people haven’t realised they are part of the systems that are breaking them
  • Anyone who thinks there’s nothing they can do doesn’t understand their role in the world
  • I recognise that I need to change. I recognise that I can help groups to change. I recognise that there is a system, and that I and these groups can change the system


  • I think we are mid-breakdown, and I don’t believe that is a bad thing
  • It’s going to get worse and it’s going to get worse fast
  • We have to break down old systems
  • How do we do things imperfectly whilst still making forward progress
  • What’s going on can’t keep going on. We’re either going to breakdown or breakthrough.
  • It’s not simple, it’s going to be complex, it’s going to be messy

New Leaders

  • We need people who focus on understanding interbeing and interconnectedness
  • That’s where we are, still looking for those leaders to emerge
  • We’ve seen a lot of leaders who don’t have the answers because they can’t think outside the paradigm within which they have been operating
  • Some of them will lead us into the future and some of them will hold us back
  • We are birthing a new generation of leaders
  • The people in power are not the ones to lead us there. We are going to see a big shift in who is leading
  • Because you have agency you have ownership. That means you have opportunity & obligation.
  • We got this. You’ve had your turn. Sorry, not enough. Now we got this.

Discomfort & Choice

  • Discomfort is a force for change. A productive thing. It’s not something we embrace or look for, yet it is often the thing that gives birth to the greatest innovations.
  • Use your agency to make choices that make the world better & work for you
  • Once you begin to think of yourself as a leader it’s going to change your lens on life
  • People are up for being told they are doing wrong, as long as they are told how you can do things better.

Follow Betsy via the links below, and also grab a copy of her book (if you haven’t done so already!):

Check out Betsy’s podcast ‘The Discomfort Practice’ wherever you listen to podcasts.

Follow Tim and join the Better World Leaders community via the links below:

youtube @timcollings – click here for channel

Episode Pages for this episode and all previous Better World Leaders conversations available here;

As always, great thanks and appreciation to the team who contributed to bringing Better World Leaders to you;

To Brendan Ward for mastering, final production, composition and performance of original music throughout each episode.

To Cooper, Pat and the team at RadioHub studios for audio editing, technical support and creative guidance during the episodes that are recorded face-to-face. You can find out about Radio Hub’s services here –

To NokNok Studios for website design, hosting and advice. Find out about NokNok’s awesome services here

To Cirasa Design for logo and site graphics – Find our about Cirasa’s inspiring work here

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